‘Hollow’ promise to protect teachers over gay marriage

Promises to protect teachers who believe in traditional marriage are “hollow”, former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe has said.

Miss Widdecombe also said the Government wants to “gag” anyone who disagrees with David Cameron.

She highlighted the case of a school teacher who is already under investigation for opposing gay marriage before it’s even been legalised.

Promote

The former minister said the Government’s assurance that no teacher would be required to promote views that go against their beliefs is an “excellent principle.”

But she said: “Unfortunately it is also a hollow promise.

“Even before the Bill is law members of the teaching profession are being penalised for refusal to sign up to the new state orthodoxy.

Investigation

“A teacher from South London is now under investigation because she refused to teach children that disagreeing with gay marriage is automatically homophobic.

“So not only is she not allowed freedom of conscience but she is expected to teach children that nobody else is.”

Lord Dear read a letter from the South London teacher in the House of Lords during committee stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill last week.

Specific

However, the Government has refused to put specific protections in place for teachers in the legislation.

Miss Widdecombe said: “Why? Because it wants to gag Christians, Muslims and many others, including gays, who disagree with Mr Cameron.”

She refers to a ComRes poll carried out for the Coalition for Marriage earlier this year which found that a “clear majority” of teachers believe opposing gay marriage will “risk career damage”.

Refuse

She also said: “Yet 10 per cent of teachers told the same poll they would refuse to teach the importance of same sex marriage in the classroom.”

“Does Education Secretary Michael Gove really want to lose up to 40,000 teachers?”

Talking about the deep divisions gay marriage has caused within the Tory party, the former cabinet minister asked: “Was there ever a leadership which tried so hard to alienate its own loyal followers?”

Destruction

“I could weep – if I were not so angry – for the simultaneous destruction of marriage, freedom of speech and the once-great Conservative Party.”

Amendments to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will be discussed at report stage in the House of Lords in the coming weeks.

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